Dandelion Salad with Bacon & Garlic Croutons
My favorite way to eat dandelions is fresh in a salad dressed with mustardy vinaigrette. Remember, the key to enjoying dandelions (and other wild greens) is to make sure they’re scrupulously clean. It’s easier to clean greens after they’ve soaked in cold water overnight. Another trick is to use kitchen shears to separate the leaves from the center rosette (which is discarded); it speeds up the tedious process of removing every bit of dirt. Red onions should be added to taste: I like the smaller amount and my husband likes the greater.
6 cups dandelion greens, or other tender wild greens
3 slices bacon
4 slices artisan-style bread
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 – 1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. bacon fat
2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 tsp. sugar (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Wash greens carefully. Discard any tough or damaged leaves, stems, roots, and the tiny flower bud often found in the center of even young dandelions. Dry greens well and tear larger leaves into pieces.
Cut bacon into 1/2” pieces. Fry over medium-high heat, stirring regularly to prevent burning, until bacon pieces are crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to paper towel to drain. Pour bacon fat into small bowl and reserve for use in the dressing.
Cut bread into 3/4” cubes. Add butter and olive oil to pan in which bacon cooked; melt butter and stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of pan. Stir in garlic, being careful not to let it burn. Add bread cubes and quickly stir to evenly distribute the fat. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until bread cubes are toasted and crispy.
Whisk together vinegar and mustard, then slowly whisk in olive oil, bacon fat, minced garlic, and sugar. Season dressing to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Recipe may be made ahead to this point.)
Right before serving salad, toss greens, red onions, cooked bacon, and croutons with half the dressing. If needed, add remaining dressing and toss again. Top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve immediately.